Hydrated polymer (hydrogel) dressings, originally developed in the 1950s, contain 90% water in a gel base, which helps regulate fluid exchange from the wound surface. Hydrogel dressing are usually clear or translucent and vary in viscosity or thickness. They’re available in three forms:
• amorphous hydrogel—free-flowing gel, packaged in tubes, foil packets, and spray bottles
• impregnated hydrogel—amorphous hydrogel saturated onto a gauze pad, nonwoven sponge ropes and/or strips
• sheet hydrogel—a gel supported by a thin fiber mesh. The dressing can overlap intact skin and generally won’t harm it. It’s available with and without adhesive borders and can be cut to fit the wound.
By providing moisture to the wound, hydrogel dressings create a moist healing environment, which promotes granulation, epithelialization, and autolytic debridement. The high water content of hydrogel dressings cools the wound, producing pain relief that can last up to 6 hours. Dressing-change discomfort is also reduced because hydrogels don’t adhere to the wound surface.
In summary, hydrogel dressings:
• are soothing and reduce pain
• rehydrate the wound bed
• facilitate autolytic debridement
• fill in dead space (amorphous and impregnated types)
• can be used when infection is present.
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